A successful ‘Rodeo’ raid to France

Armourers clean out the cannon of a No 245 Squadron Typhoon (JR311/MR-G) at Westhampnett, 18 January 1944. Like most Typhoon squadrons, No 245 had converted to the fighter-bomber role and was now taking part in an intensive period of dive-bombing attacks against 'Noball' targets (V-1 flying-bomb storage and launch sites) in northern France. Rangers and medium-bomber escorts were also regular activities.

Armourers clean out the cannon of a No 245 Squadron Typhoon (JR311/MR-G) at Westhampnett, 18 January 1944. Like most Typhoon squadrons, No 245 had converted to the fighter-bomber role and was now taking part in an intensive period of dive-bombing attacks against ‘Noball’ targets (V-1 flying-bomb storage and launch sites) in northern France. Rangers and medium-bomber escorts were also regular activities.

Still from camera gun footage shot from a Hawker Typhoon Mark IB flown by Flying Officer J M G "Plum" Plamondon RCAF of No. 198 Squadron RAF, as he shot down a Junkers Ju 88 during a sortie over northern France. Cannon shells strike the fuselage of the Ju 88 which burst into flames and crashed from 50 feet shortly after.

Still from camera gun footage shot from a Hawker Typhoon Mark IB flown by Flying Officer J M G “Plum” Plamondon RCAF of No. 198 Squadron RAF, as he shot down a Junkers Ju 88 during a sortie over northern France. Cannon shells strike the fuselage of the Ju 88 which burst into flames and crashed from 50 feet shortly after.

With the the invasion of Europe now expected by everyone within the next few months, the Allies were making every effort to reduce the strength of the Luftwaffe – and in the opening months of 1944 their combined efforts were very successful. The USAAF had brought long range fighters into operation to accompany their bomber fleets and they were not just protecting the bombers but actively seeking out the German fighters and shooting them down.

The RAF fighter squadrons were equally aggressive, mounting constant ‘Rodeo’ operations over northern France and Belgium. The 10th February saw a particularly successful sweep by a combined force of 8 Typhoons from No. 193 and 266 Squadrons.

The Combat Reports from Wing Commander Baker:

8 Typhoons [from] 193 and 266 [Squadrons] led by W/C Baker
All Typhoons 1b L.R.
1410-1420
Area 10 – 15 miles ESE of Paris
Heavy rainstorms
1Do217 destroyed, 1 FW190 destroyed

After losing touch with my No.2 in cloud I found my aircraft icing up and broke cloud at 700 ft, going down.

After having sorted out the cockpit I suddenly saw a Do217 flying East at 600 feet/200 yards ahead. I closed to about 70 yards dead astern and below, and tried one short burst. The e/a burst into flames and I saw it hit the ground.

I then discovered that I was steering east, so I changed my course to WNW flying at low level through snow flurries. I emerged from one of these and saw one FW190 flying NNW at 600 feet 500 yards ahead. I closed to 50 yards astern and slightly underneath e/a, and carried out the same attack as on the Do217. E/a’s engine caught fire, aircraft rolled over and I saw it hit the deck in flames.

Still steering WNW in bad snowstorm I suddenly found myself over Paris at roof-top level, and immediately changed course to NNW. I saw the Arc de Triomphe from close range, also a game of football going on in a large stadium. There was no flak at all from Paris.

I recrossed coast at 0 ft 8 miles SW of Le Treport, and eventually landed at Newchurch very short of petrol, although Shellpink had given me several vectors around 190 degrees as homing course for English coast.

and Flight Lieutenant Deall

1400 – 1420 hours
Etampes a/f and Bretigny a/f
8/10 to 10/10 rainstorms vis fair to poor
1 Ju88 destroyed in Air, 1 Ju 88 destroyed on ground, 1 D0217 damaged on ground.

I was flying as Lochinvar Blue 1 on 10 Group Rodeo 80 operating from Beaulieu, approaching Etampes Mondesir ‘drome’ when W/Cdr Baker reported e/a on the ground, I think there were about 15 e/a dispersed around this a/f.

I attacked a Ju88 firing a short burst from 300 – 200 yards, hitting the e/a on the fuselage between the main planes. The e/a burst into flames. Looking back after the attack I saw the e/a burning fiercely, flames nearly ten feet high. I claim the e/a as destroyed.

We reformed and set course on 010 degrees. Approaching another ‘drome’ Bretigny, I attacked a large e/a which had landed on its belly, a Do217 I think. The e/a was being worked on by a working party, a vehicle of sorts was standing next to this e/a. My first shells fell a little short but eventually I got strikes on the e/a, scattering the working party left and right and probably killing a few.

After this attack I saw a Ju88 flying west at 1,000 ft. Calling up W/Cdr Baker I went into attack firing a 2 secs burst from 350 yds to 150 yds, angle of attack 20 degrees – 10 degrees, getting large strikes all over the e/a which went up in flames, broke in half, the tail and part of the fuselage hitting the deck after the main part of the e/a.

At this stage I was separated from W/Cdr Baker and his No. 2 with the remaining 3 a/c (2 of 266 and 1 of 193). I set course westwards. After about three minutes on this course my No.2 F/O McGibbon reported e/a to starboard we turned towards the e/a, which were trainer (Harvard) types going into land. I was unable to get in an attack. F/O McGibbon shot down 3 of them.

Seeing no more e/a about, I told the section to reform and set course for home. F/Lt Cassie 193 had run out of ammo. Slight light flak was experienced from the ‘dromes’ attacked, also medium light flak during the engagement with the Ju88 and with the Harvards. A sharp shower of derision (about 20 Bofors shells simultaneously) was hurled at me from a railway station possibly – Rambouillet – I consider this was from train borne flak.

On course for home the weather deteriorated so I climbed the Section through cloud breaking at 8,000 ft. Later descending again breaking cloud cover over the inner estuary of the Seine at 4,000. We crossed out of France five miles S of C. d’Antifer Landing back at Tangmere 2.25 hours after take off.

More about this raid and its pilots can be read at the tribute site which remembers Wing Commander Ernest Baker.

A Hawker Tempest V (foreground) and Hawker Typhoon of No 486 Squadron, Royal New Zealand Air Force based at Castle Camps airfield, Cambridgeshire.

A Hawker Tempest V (foreground) and Hawker Typhoon of No 486 Squadron, Royal New Zealand Air Force based at Castle Camps airfield, Cambridgeshire.

Six stills from camera gun footage shot from a Hawker Typhoon Mark IB of No. 266 Squadron RAF, showing the shooting down in flames of a Messerschmitt Bf 109G which was taking off from an airfield in northern France.

Six stills from camera gun footage shot from a Hawker Typhoon Mark IB of No. 266 Squadron RAF, showing the shooting down in flames of a Messerschmitt Bf 109G which was taking off from an airfield in northern France.

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